The last part of the road trip was to Matsue. It is a pretty, old castle town (it's a "black" castle!) but unfortunately, the day we were there, it was pouring rain...
That didn't stop us from taking a small boat tour around the castle's huge moat, the "Horikawa". The moat was lined with perfectly pruned Japanese pines and everywhere we saw, the hydrangeas were in full bloom- blues, purples, pinks, whites, light green.... I can't believe they don't have "hanami" parties for them- they are so colorful and pretty!
It was wild- we just took off our shoes and sat on "tatami" mats on the floor of the boat! We passed under about 16 bridges- most of which were beautiful old wooden bridges surrounded by lush trees and bushes. Because some of the bridges were so low, the boats had been engineered to lower the tentlike roof structure whenever we passed under them! We all had to duck down or lie down on the floor so that we could clear the underside of the bridges!
Afterwards, we checked out this cool museum where we were the only visitors. It was somewhat Scandinavian inspired, so it looked totally out of place from what we have been used to for the last year. With its large overhanging roof, big windows, and warm wood, it was a perfect place to sit and enjoy watching the rain, rather than getting soaked!